Casey Anthony’s Verdict: Reasonable Doubt Rules No Matter How Distasteful One May Find the Outcome

Despite a multiplicity of opinions to the contrary and informal polling suggesting that “two thirds of those polled believe Casey Anthony to be guilty of murder”, about the only things established by the outcome in State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony, (No. 48-2008-CF-0015606-O) are that jury trials really are marathons, not sprints and that no matter the accusation, the accused need not prove anything from start to finish. Most importantly, and the truly defining aspect of this case, is the fact that the burden of proof remains always, and unalterably, upon the prosecution. While it is true that the prosecution is not required to prove a specific motive (although as a former homicide prosecutor, I can attest that proving motive helps), and while there is no requirement that the actual cause of death be proven, the fact is that in our Justice System, the prosecution must prove each and every element of the crime(s) charged beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do not, the defendant MUST be acquitted. Clearly, all 12 Anthony jurors unanimously agreed that did not happen, and that’s really where the analysis should end. (The only things they could agree on were convictions on the four counts of lying to authorities about Caylee’s disappearance.) Whether it was “the CSI effect” (lack of scientific proof), no proof of causation, skepticism over motive, or any number of possible unresolved questions that took the form of reasonable doubts — whether numbering one, twelve, or thirty — it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the jury apparently not only held the prosecution to its requisite burden from start to finish, but also grasped the fact that the defendant has no duty whatsoever to explain anything or answer any unresolved questions. Like it or not, isn’t that the way it should always be for anyone accused of any crime ranging from a misdemeanor all the way to a capital charge such as this one? In this country you are presumed innocent until a jury of your peers decides the prosecution has proven your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not about feelings, moral outrage, or opinion - it’s about proven facts and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom - if the jury can’t commit, they must acquit.